Low Staffing of Nurses in the Hospital Setting | Free Essay Example

Low Staffing of Nurses in the Hospital Setting

Words: 666
Topic: Health & Medicine


The lack of qualified staff in the environment of contemporary healthcare clearly is a reason for concern (Karanikola et al., 2013). Making the managers of healthcare facilities assign the available staff with an excessive amount of roles and responsibilities, the identified phenomenon leads to an array of negative effects, a drastic rise in workplace burnout rates, and a rapid drop in the quality of the services is the key problems. Although the problem is caused by a number of factors, the lack of collaboration seems to affect the staffing levels in the hospital setting, therefore, leading to an inevitable drop in performance quality.

Moral Distress

Karanikola et al. (2013) prove in their quantitative study that nurses are extremely prone to moral distress in the contemporary healthcare environment due to unreasonably high levels of workload and a very small number of staff members. The choice of the methodology can be deemed as the strength of the article, yet it lacks a more detailed analysis of the factors affecting nurses’ motivation.

Burnout and Engagement Levels

Montgomery, Spanu, Baban, and Panagopoulou (2015) emphasize that the levels of burnout also rise with the number of tasks and responsibilities in low-staffing hospitals. In their quantitative study addressing the issue of low staffing levels, Montgomery et al. (2015), however, suggest that the promotion of teamwork can be used to handle the problem. The research should be appreciated for the focus on the communication issue However, the use of self-reports may have affected the research objectivity.

Patient Safety Issues

Ashley, Mehrotra, Holl, and Daskin (2014) explain that the lack of qualified staff affects the quality of services provided to the patients and, therefore, triggers a drop in successful recovery rates among patients. Adopting the newsvendor model to study the implications of the phenomenon, Ashley et al. (2014) have made a difference in the study of the problem. However, the authors did not mention other factors that affect patient risk levels.

Children Care

Cimiotti, Barton, Gorman, Sloane, and Aiken (2014) point to the fact that low staffing levels have an especially negative effect on the quality of children’s care. The authors make their research strong by addressing the lack of appropriate staffing management tools in the acute care setting that may jeopardize the lives of children across the United States. However, the specialty-service lines that are viewed as a temporary solution to the problem could use a better analysis.

Nurse-Sensitive Outcomes

According to Twigg, Gelder, & Myers (2015), understaffed shifts have a direct negative effect on patient outcomes. Even though the rates of performance success varied depending on the specific qualities of the nurse, the research clearly shows that the nurse-sensitive outcomes were much more numerous in the understaffed environment. The opportunities for designing a comprehensive management model are the primary strength of the research. Still, a broader overview of the problems associated with low staffing would be an improvement.

Financial Performance

Last but definitely not least, the financial issue is touched upon by Everhart, Neff, Al-Amin, Nogle, and Weech-Maldonado (2013).prove that low staffing levels make a hospital lose its competitive advantage in the environment of the global economy. As a result, the organization does not have an opportunity to provide its patients with the services of the appropriate quality and is supposed to provide cheaper substitutes instead.


Though shaped by many factors, the current issue of understaffing can be explained by the lack of an appropriate communication framework. Studies show that the problems caused by the lack of qualified personnel in the healthcare environment lead to a significant drop in positive patient outcomes, therefore, making it impossible to deliver the services of high quality. Furthermore, low staffing affects nurses as well, triggering workplace burnouts and reducing the enthusiasm levels among them. In terms of nursing practice improvement, reconsidering the benefits provided to nurses can be viewed as a possible means of recruiting new and qualified employees, and retaining them.


Ashley, D., Mehrotra, S., Holl, J., & Daskin, M. H. (2014). Nurse staffing under demand uncertainty to reduce costs and enhance patient safety. Asia-Pacific Journal of Operational Research, 31(1), 1-19. Web.

Cimiotti, J. P., Barton, S. J., Gorman, K. E. C., Sloane, D. M., & Aiken, L. H. (2014). Nurse reports on resource adequacy in hospitals that care for acutely ill children. Journal of Healthcare Quality, 36(2), 25–32. Web.

Everhart, D., Neff, D., Al-Amin, M., Nogle, J., & Weech-Maldonado, R. (2013). The effects of nurse staffing on hospital financial performance: Competitive versus less competitive markets. Health Care Management Review, 38(2), 146-155. Web.

Karanikola, M. N. K. , Albarran, J. W., Drigo, E., Giannakopoulou, M. , Kalafati, M., Mpouzika, M.,… Papathanassoglou, E. D. (2013). Moral distress, autonomy and nurse–physician collaboration among intensive care unit nurses in Italy. Journal of Nursing Management, 22(4), 472-484. Web.

Montgomery, A., Spanu, F., Baban, A., & Panagopoulou, E. (2015). Job demands, burnout, and engagement among nurses: A multi-level analysis of ORCAB data investigating the moderating effect of teamwork. Burnout Research, 2(1), 71-79. Web.

Twigg, D. E., Gelder, L., & Myers, H. (2015). The impact of understaffed shifts on nurse-sensitive outcomes. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(7), 1564–1572. Web.